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Your Residency Specialty

  • Choosing your specialty is the first step in the residency application because...you want to know which programs to apply to!

  • Here are a few tips and tricks to guide you if you're still a little lost: 

    • Start thinking about what specialties you like halfway through your third year rotations 

    • Figure out what you’ve liked during your core rotations AND what you don’t like to help narrow down your choice

      • Make a pros and cons ​list

    • Use this assessment tool from AAMC (make sure you have an account!)

    • Schedule an early elective ASAP so you have time to change your mind before September

      • If you're applying for the 2020 match, you should schedule some of the electives in the specialties you're interested in that way you could get an LOR if you end up loving it OR having enough time to have a different elective ​

  • Requirements for Specialties

    • Most specialties will require the same things: ERAS, USMLE Scores, LORs (minimum of 2 from your specialty of interest), CV and Personal Statements

    • Special Requirements

      • Emergency Medicine: You need a minimum of 2 SLOEs and must complete the SVI (on ERAS)

      • Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesia, Dermatology, Neurology: You need to apply to a preliminary or a transitional year as well as the categorical program

        • A preliminary/transitional year is one year of internal medicine training which is a requirement for more specialized residency programs

        • When looking for programs, they have either preliminary/transitional or categorical programs. The former is only a 1 year program while the latter is the usual 3/4 (or 5) year program. You don't need to apply to both a transitional/preliminary and categorical program at once HOWEVER it does save you time and money instead of reapplying during your intern year (you'll be so busy!) 

    • If you've matched into a California program and are an IMG, you will need to apply for the Post-Training Authorization Letter (PTAL) before residency starts in July 

      • The old rule was if you were simply applying to California programs you will need to apply but now new rules have changed as per the Medical Board of California ​​​

      • The PTAL requires: 

        • Application and fee - $491​

        • Fingerprints

        • L6 forms - you must send these to every hospital you've done a rotation in (core and elective) 

        • L2, L4 - your school must send these 

        • ECFMG certification

        • Medical School Diploma

        • Official Medical School Transcript 

  • Researching Your Specialties​​​: you can use these websites to look at the requirements for different programs, likelihood of matching and other information

    • FREIDA - Online Residency Database: this is a great free resource to see all programs and their requirements (sometimes they don't include it but include the program website) 

    • Match-A-Resident: this is a good tool because it tells you which programs you may match in or may get interviews when entering your USMLE scores and other information. I have never used this personally but my friends have told me this is a good site to use 

    • EMRA Match: this is similar to FREIDA but only for EM applicants 

    • NRMP Match Data: data from this past year's match in terms of USMLE scores, volunteer jobs, publications, # of applicants per specialty (IMG vs US) and other data

    • You can watch YouTube videos on your specialty, dream residency program for inspiration and for more information. (I would watch Code Black to keep me inspired as I applied to Emergency Medicine LOL)

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